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Moving from a legacy system to new CRM…a typical case study - Part 1

Recently, I encountered a case of a legacy CRM system client who needed to move to a new CRM system. This was a typical case of a company that had embraced the concept of a managed CRM system 10 years ago and had developed a system themselves using internal resources.

With the upturn in the economy, migration CRM projects such as this are now back on the agenda for a number of reasons, including the usual need to stay compatible with IT and MS Office (remember Windows XP is out of life from April this year) and the need to streamline and improve existing processes to reflect the marketplace and needs of today, not of 5 or even 10 years ago.

This was classic case can be used to illustrate why we most often recommend proven CRM brands.

The client had a MS Access (2007) based database for their sales and marketing team, but a completely separate Paradox (very old) database for managing their customer service issues or cases and their installed equipment serial numbers , location etc. The problem was that neither of these systems talked to each other and that customer data was replicated across both plus both systems couldn’t be upgraded easily.

As the client said:- “We found that we were unable to move forward and needed to find an off-the-shelf solution that was quick and easy to implement. Our two systems were close to falling over and our key developer, whilst very good and able was now close to retiring. For us, these were business critical systems, which whilst they worked well individually were getting old and did leave us exposed. Our focus now is on developing our business into new markets and not in developing our own software. For us, it was far better to use an experienced consultancy to help us select a new CRM system. We were recommended to talk to MAS by our marketing agency, who have known MAS for 10 years.”

With custom developments, I also find other issues such as a lack of documentation and training material. Plus, the evolvement of the system has often been of an ad hoc nature. Most commonly, there is an often little integration with new MS Office packages (e.g. MS Outlook 2010).

But still the most common reason I come across is that the original database developer(s) have left or are about to leave the business. These system themselves were originally well designed and have delivered a good tactical solution for a number of years, making our migration easier. But they have lost some development momentum, so extra ‘databases’ often spring up to compensate (typically Excel Spread sheets are created to fill the gaps).*

Nowadays, SME organisations priority is on income generation, not in managing software development projects. After all, no one would now suggest developing a new word processing package themselves!

The position is in my view, the same for CRM, since I firmly believe that for most clients, there is no need to replicate what is already out there in abundance. A quick search showed 355 possible CRM systems, so where do you start?

If in any doubt, engage an independent CRM consultancy such as ourselves who have 16 years’ experience with a wide variety of CRM systems (GoldMine, ACT, MS CRM, Sage CRM, Sales Logix, Maximizer, Nimble CRM, and Our role really is to use our industry knowledge to help you to select the best CRM to match your business requirements.

*Part 2 of this Blog will talk about some of the challenges in moving from an old legacy system.

by Gary Perkins

7th February 2014